Dennis Behm is a donor who still has ink in his blood. His personal headline for Wednesday, Feb. 26 is the news of his 125th lifetime donation with Community Blood Center (CBC). He is retired from a 39-year career with the Dayton Daily News. When it began, a newspaper arrived with a thud on your doorstep, not with an inbox alert on your smartphone.
“I started as a printer for the first 10 years,” he said. “I went from hot type to film to direct-to-plate. I saw the whole printing process change in 39 years. I retired from the Dayton Daily News in IT.”
Translated, that means when he started he used the “hot type” of molten lead cast into letters and lines of type. Next he worked with “cold type,” the phototypesetting of code onto film, transferred in a dark room process to a printing plate. Then the process became computer typesetting to film, followed by desktop printing directly from the computer to the printing plate. By the time he retired it was a business of shrinking newspaper subscriptions and the exploding digital world of web publishing and electronic delivery.
He’s seen blood donations change during the journey to his 125 LTD milestone, though perhaps not as swiftly and dramatically. He started donating at mobile blood drives that came to the DDN. He made whole blood donations at the downtown Dayton CBC for about 10 years and became a platelet donor in 2004. He recalls, “One day they said, ‘Would you like to be an apheresis donor?’ so I switched.”
Dennis is adaptive, evidenced by his long career in a rapidly evolving industry. But with ink in his blood, he holds on to a reverence for the way some things used to be.
“I still volunteer at Carillon Historical Park in the print shop,” he said. He takes visitors back in time when he runs the old 1930’s printing press in the shop, churning out print items used by the park.
He’s also the chief judge for the annual Dayton Concours d’Elegance exotic auto exhibition and competition held at the park in September. The Concours is known as a chance to examine and admire 200 of the finest classic and antique automobiles and motorcycles in the country. All proceeds benefit Dayton History, the organization that operates Carillon Park and other Dayton historical sites. “We raised almost $75,000 for the park last year,” Dennis said.
Before he hits the road after his donation milestone, Dennis pauses to admire one new piece of print work. He leaves with a new travel bag, a CBC gift recognizing his milestone, emblazoned with “Donor for Life: 125 LTD.” As this retired printer understands, the words that others will read are the result of a process.